By Brian Koonce
HOLTS SUMMIT – The Bible may not give pointers on sliding into second base or how to perfect that jump shot, but it does offer insight on riding the bench, cheating, and being a team player.
That’s the idea behind God’s Game Plan for Young Athletes, a book compiled by Bobby Shows, Sports Crusaders founder and Missouri sports evangelist. The book is set to be published by LifeWay Christian Resources in time for its Christmas catalog.
“We’ve been listening to children and youth for 15 years and it seemed like a good way to point them toward the Scriptures,” Shows said.
Various pastors, lay leaders, and coaches from around the state submitted questions they heard actual children asking at Sports Crusader clinics, and Shows compiled them and the Biblical answers into God’s Game Plan for Young Athletes.
At 107 pages, the book is in the form of about 150 questions and answers divided into five areas: attitude, teamwork, faith, character and competition. Questions from the Attitude section include: How can I be teachable on the field?; What if I can’t?; What if I’m injured?; and Why don’t I get to play more?
The book was originally written for Sports Crusaders’ summer sports camp devotions, but LifeWay saw its sports-centric message had a wider appeal than just Missourians attending camps.
Sports has been the key to Shows’ ministry from Day One.
He went to Mississippi State University (MSU) on a basketball scholarship, where performing on the court consumed his life.
“Basketball became my god,” he said. “I depended on that for everything.”
His sophomore year at MSU, he was injured and couldn’t live up to the standards he expected of himself. He became the 13th player on a 13-man team.
In 1961 at a Baptist Student Union retreat he “had a wrestling session with God.”
“He won, and I became a Christian,” Shows said. “I got back to school and began looking at ways God could use me as a Christian for His kingdom.”
Eventually God showed him that he didn’t have to do anything: he was already an athlete and could use his talents to share the Gospel. His legs healed and he started the next two years at MSU, which opened doors for him to begin his ministry speaking at youth retreats and sports banquets. Soon he was coaching the freshman team at MSU, then at the high school level, then on to sports and recreation ministries at local churches in Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. He was leading international sports mission trips, prison sports ministries, and camps around town.
In 1993 he became a consultant for the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) dealing with Royal Ambassadors, senior adults, and sports and recreation, which led to Sports Crusaders. Shows stepped out and made Sports Crusaders a full-time faith ministry in 2001. He officially retired in 2008, but is still serving as interim executive director.
Sports Crusaders will minister to approximately 3,000 children and youth this summer in various camps across the Midwest.
“It’s been a good journey,” he said.